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Mon Aug 13 2007 15:27:46

eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?

By: Ina Steiner

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One can only image the reaction at eBay headquarters 2 years ago when they read that Ken Walton was writing a book about his misadventures on the auction site. No doubt they figured the attention the Walton/Diebenkorn case had brought to the problems of shill-bidding and art-forgery on eBay would go away once Walton was sentenced to 9 months probation for his misdeeds.

Walton and his cohorts proved to be a major embarrassment to the auction site, and Walton reminded the world again with his 2006 book, "Fake: Forgery, Lies & eBay" and the accompanying interviews he conducted with the press.

The self-admitted eBay shiller and art-forger Ken Walton just won't go away. Last month, he spoke at the 2007 International Appraisal Conference.

The July 18th session was called, "Fakes, Lies and eBay: Confessions of an Art Forger." Here's the description of Walton's talk:

As appraisers, we now use eBay for collectibles that it often took us days to research before. But what about the market information from eBay? Is it reliable? Are the postings accurate? How often are the objects that are offered fake? Kenneth Walton was a successful eBay forger until he sold a painting to which he had added a signature "RD52." He knew buyers would think it was an early Richard Diebenkorn. And they did. The painting sold for $140,000. How did he do it? Who else was complicit? What can we learn as appraisers from his story? A discussion of the book Fake: Forgery, Lies and eBay, will focus on its cautionary messages for professional appraisers, followed by a question-and-answer dialog with attendees.

Learning Objectives:
Recognize the challenges posed by eBay as a vast marketplace of unvested art, antiques and collectibles.
Understand tricks used by eBay sellers to pass off fakes and forgeries.
Learn how to educate clients who shop online.

I got in touch with Jen Lofquist, Public Relations Manager for the American Society of Appraisers, to learn how members received Walton's presentation:

"Approximately 75 personal property appraisers gathered to hear Ken Walton-convicted felon and author of the book Fake: Forgery, Lies & eBay-speak at the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) annual meeting in Los Angeles in July. ASA appraisers are constantly honing their knowledge of the field and that includes learning as much as possible about fraudulent practices. ASA warns consumers to be vigilant when buying artwork and antiques. Although appraisers usually do not authenticate items, they can be helpful in locating someone who does. ASA also suggests that consumers work with an appraiser accredited by a national organization to ensure they truly understand the value of what they are purchasing."

As irksome as this attention to Walton must be for eBay, it's nothing compared to what might be coming: Walton said in June he closed a deal to sell the film rights of his book to an L.A.-based producer/director. A film about the shill-bidding ring would be a bitter pill for eBay execs to swallow, indeed.

Any guesses as to who would play eBay Sheriff Rob Chesnut, CEO Meg Whitman, and Ken Walton himself?






Comments (8) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?   eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bidofthis.com

Mon Aug 13 18:13:20 2007

I enjoyed the book and thought it was a fun read.

I think it would be more fun trying to guess who would play Fetterman... Ken's partner in crime...Perhaps Chris Cooper who played John Laroche in Adaptation (a.k.a the Orchid Thief)?  Same kind of character but Fetterman I pictur9ed0 as stockier....
If Spike jones made this movie that would be incredible... I wonder who is/would direct it?

Recently i tried to watch Orson well's "F for Fake"...
I couldn't make it through the DVD...

But Netflix also has the movie "Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?"
which I recommend (Also available for instant viewing
http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Who_the_Is_Jackson_Pollock/70064699R>)

BC

eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?   eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?

by: Sue @ TameBay

Mon Aug 13 18:18:03 2007

"Fake" is a great read - I really enjoyed it.

As for the casting, I think Courtney Love's looking a bit like Meg Whitman these days ]:)

eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?   eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?

by: Aaron

Mon Aug 13 21:54:01 2007

Steve Zahn, for sure.

eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?   eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?

by: Bruce from Bookshop Blog

Mon Aug 13 22:36:41 2007

Thanks for the article, very informative. I would be very hesitant to spend large amounts of money on eBay. Trust your local dealer. For Meg's role why not give John Lithgow a call?

eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?   eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?

by: kelly

Tue Aug 14 14:57:15 2007

Anxious to a movie on this. The book was very very entertaining  :)

eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?   eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?

by: grumpy3b

Tue Aug 14 19:54:03 2007

My bet for Megholio is Rosey.  Apparently some of the young execs went to a benefit in NY or somewhere back east.  This was a number of years ago...at least 5 or 6.  Rosey O'Donnell was the MC and some of the folks who went were of course, Mormons from SLC, they had their sweet feelings offended because Rosey was a bit blue with her language....awwwww...

On top of that, Meg and Rosey look a lot alike...both are tyrants too.

eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?   eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?

by: Patti

Mon Aug 20 21:30:25 2007

Peter Kraus or Bill Pullman, Pullman has that innocent look, That guy from the Vonage commercial who is dancing in the background while his obviously long suffereing wife talks to the camera, and David Lee Roth as Meg.

eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?   eBay Shill Bidder Coming to the Big Screen?

by: Dan Taylor

Tue Aug 28 06:25:43 2007

When I interviewed Walton for a newspaper column a year or so ago I asked him if there was any interest in a big screen version since the book played out like a film. He said at the time that there had been some interest but nothing concrete. I'm not surprised by this news... the book is a fascinating read and if done properly could be quite interesting. What about the guy from FIREFLY as Walton?



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